About the Course

Big Questions

  • Grades 5-6
  • CTY-Level

What is justice? What is beauty? What is the right thing to do? What is real? How can I be sure of what I know? This philosophy class will cultivate and refine your critical thinking skills by asking you to consider such fundamental questions. The emphasis is not on finding the answers, but on understanding the process of reasoning through a problem. You and your classmates will explore the methods philosophers use to develop and assess potential solutions. You’ll learn to actively listen, evaluate arguments, formulate your own clear opinions, and defend your conclusions against objections. By participating in discussions and activities, reading works by ancient and modern philosophers, and writing short essays you will develop the analytical reasoning skills needed to ask challenging questions, and become a better thinker across many disciplines.

Typical Class Size: 14

Testing and Prerequisites

  Math Verbal
Required Level Not required CTY-Level
Check your eligibility using existing test scores If you do not have existing test scores:

Students must achieve qualifying scores on an advanced assessment to be eligible for CTY programs. If you don’t have qualifying scores, you have several different testing options. We’ll help you find the right option for your situation.

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Cost and Financial Aid

  • Tuition
    • Varies
  • Application fee
    • Nonrefundable Application Fee - $50 (Waived for financial aid applicants)
    • Nonrefundable International Fee - $250 (outside US only)

Financial Aid is available

We are committed to serving all talented youth regardless of financial circumstances. Financial assistance is available based on need.

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Course Materials

Students should bring basic school supplies like pens, notebooks, and folders to their summer program. You will be notified of any additional items needed before the course begins. All other materials will be provided by CTY.

Sample Reading

These titles have been featured in past sessions of the course, and may be included this summer. CTY provides all texts; no purchase is required.

  • Philosophy for Kids: 40 Questions that Help you Wonder About Everything! by David White
  • What If … Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy, by Peg Tittle

About History and Social Science at CTY

Enhance your critical thinking skills

Expand your ability to reason through difficult problems by taking one of our philosophy or logic classes. Learn how to craft strong and clear arguments in Big Questions, write proofs that avoid fallacious reasoning in Introduction to Logic, or explore the techniques of logic that lawyers, doctors, and mathematicians utilize to be successful in their fields in Logic: Principles of Reasoning.

Explore social justice in action

Develop knowledge and skills that will help you address issues of systemic inequality throughout the world. Challenge historical assumptions about gender to interrogate harmful stereotypes in Beyond the Binary.

Meet our instructors and staff